EATC insignia

Reshaping the whole operational landscape

A Titan to arrive pictured by Bjoern Trotzki



Arrival of a Titan


How EATC will reshape European military air transport by the introduction of the Airbus A400M “Atlas”

The European Air Transport Command (EATC) at the Eindhoven Air Base/the Netherlands is looking forward for the arrival of the Airbus A400M, expected latest this month above French skies, in French Air Force colours – and finally belonging to the French Air Force.
The EATC - military air transport command of the five Participating Nations (PN) - prepared itself for this impact, the arrival of an aircraft to probably revolutionize the European military air transport (AT).  

In Greek mythology, “Atlas” is the name of a Titan who was condemned by Zeus, the father of the gods, to carry the load of the entire world. With such a name, the new European military transport aircraft is causing quite some attraction – while it will not have to carry the load of the world, the A400M will fly around the world and constitute the backbone of European military air transport for many years to come. The EATC will also benefit from the introduction of this aircraft. The EATC will especially develop relevant plans and guidelines for the future employment of the A400M – in order to ensure an expeditious and smooth fielding of the A400M in the air forces of the EATC PN.

The versatile and agile A400M at Le Bourget


Backbone for decades in military AT

Once the A400M has been introduced into the EATC-assigned units of the air forces of France, Belgium, Germany and the Luxembourg Armed Forces - which will operate one Airbus A400M together with Belgium - the EATC will automatically become the major user of this new transport aircraft. Thus, the EATC has been in the starting blocks for months now, because preparing the integration of the new transport aircraft in several air forces at the same time is a huge task which, moreover, has to be accomplished in just a few months. But this task also offers a unique chance: “New missions, new areas of activities and new technologies – this is an outstanding chance for all EATC PN to take appropriate measures now - in order to comprehensively harmonize the technical aspects of the operational aircraft, to further develop coordinated training activities and to determine effective operational criteria for decades to come,” says Major General Pascal Valentin, EATC Commander, indicating therewith at the same time that former weaknesses in terms of effectiveness and efficiency - which are and were caused by systems operated on a purely national basis - will soon become a status of the past.

Operational quantum leap

The Atlas will revolutionize the options of European military air transport, because it is one of the few aircraft available “on the market” that can be service in both tactical and strategic roles. Compared to other military transport aircraft, the A400M offers a much broader mission spectrum which in the past had to be covered by at least two different systems, a tactical one (e.g. the Transall in the French Air Force) and a strategic one (e.g. the Airbus A310 MRTT of the German Air Force)


A400M cockpit has got a lot of applications taken from the A380 cockpit

And even with this wide variety of roles, the operational options of the new Airbus - which has, by the way, a civilian airworthiness certification as well - are not exhausted. The EATC itself is quite satisfied to have in future stock probably the best carrier for multirole (MRTT) purposes available: Paratroop drops, Strategic Air Transport, Air-to-Air refueling, Aeromedival Evacuation,… just to name a few roles the Atlas will be capable of.


Pooling and Sharing 2.0

To sum it up, the assigned EATC fleets age will decrease its average age rapidly within few years, when first C-160 Transall aircraft are exchanged step by step with the A400M. Same time the EATC will conduct the most modern military air transport fleet: Its future core transport mean has a much larger range capacity than its predecessors C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transall, can load up heavier cargo, flies faster and higher. “The EATC makes a leap forward with this aircraft - not only because of its effectiveness, but also because of its economical advantages with regard to maintenance and cost/performance ratio”, explains General Valentin: ”This efficiency will make the EATC much more competitive - and saves resources the same time: Benefit to EATC Participating Nations.”


Words: Norbert Thomas, Charline Redin

Pictures: Bjoern Trotzki, Martin Gesenhoff, Norbert Thomas


The Commander Major General Pascal Valentin

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